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Peter Lawrence Buck (born December 6, 1956 in Berkeley, Californiamarker) is the guitarist and co-founder, along with Bill Berry, Mike Mills, and Michael Stipe, of the alternative rock band R.E.M.

Throughout his career with R.E.M., which was founded in 1980, Buck has also been an official member of various 'side project' groups. These groups include Hindu Love Gods, The Minus 5, Tuatara, The Baseball Project and Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3, each of which have released at least one full-length album. Additionally, another side project group called Full Time Men released an EP; a current side project group called Slow Music plays semi-regular gigs.

Biography

After spending time in Los Angelesmarker and San Franciscomarker, the Buck family moved to Atlanta, Georgiamarker. After graduating with honors from Crestwood High School in 1975, Buck attended Emory Universitymarker but eventually dropped out. He moved to Athens, Georgiamarker, and attended the University of Georgiamarker as well. While in Athens, Buck worked at the Wuxtry Records store through which he met regular customer Michael Stipe as well as R.E.M.'s future legal and managerial representative, Bertis Downs.

Buck currently divides time between Portland, Oregonmarker and Seattle, Washingtonmarker, unlike the other two current members of the band, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe, who still live in Athens. Peter has twin girls with his ex-wife Stephanie Dorgan, Zelda and Zoe, born in June 1994. He is twice divorced.

Peter, Mike Mills, Bill Berry and Warren Zevon recorded an album under the band name Hindu Love Gods, while the R.E.M. bandmates and Zevon were recording tracks for Zevon's 1987 album Sentimental Hygiene. Hindu Love Gods is one of many names the members of R.E.M. have used performing around the Athens area.

Buck is known for his encyclopedic knowledge of music, as well as his extensive personal record collection. On March 12, 1999, in an interview on Wiese, a television music show based in Oslomarker, Norway, Buck estimated his collection to be around the 25,000 mark. In the late 1990s, he estimated he had 10,000 vinyl singles, 6,000 LPs and 4,000 CDs.

Music

Buck's style of guitar playing is simple and yet distinctive. He makes wide use of open strings while chording to create chiming and memorable pop melodies. His sound, especially on mid-period R.E.M. albums that saw the band break through to international popularity, has been associated with Rickenbacker guitars, particularly a black model 360. Peter started using Rickenbackers when one night at a gig, the ceiling happened to be low and he attempted to do a jump with his Fender Telecaster, hitting the neck on the ceiling and shattering it. The next morning Peter went into a local guitar store and there was a Rickenbacker 360 Jetglo for only $175. He later said the only reason he bought it was because it was cheap and also stated if there had been a Gretsch for that low instead of a Ric, he would have bought the Gretsch and who knows where they would be now. However, he has also used a wide variety of other instruments as the group has continued to experiment and develop. On some more recent R.E.M. releases prior to Accelerate (2008), the guitar has been noticeably less prominent, something which to a certain extent may be referable to the band's occasional increased use of synthesizers, strings and other atmospherics.

The three instrumentalists from R.E.M. all performed on Nikki Sudden's 1991 album The Jewel Thief, including the single "I Belong to You".

"When Peter plays guitar, there's a strong sense of fuck off that comes from his side of the stage. And you feel that he wants to be in a band because he likes what they do... but that's all," explained U2's Bono in 2003. "And it's almost like performing and having to deal with all of that is a bit of a compromise for him, so just fuck off. And I like that energy a little bit, and that gives them their aggression."

Buck has produced many bands, including Uncle Tupelo, Dreams So Real, The Fleshtones, Charlie Pickett, and The Feelies. Buck also has made contributions on many other musicians' albums, including The Replacements, Billy Bragg, Robyn Hitchcock, and several Eels albums. Buck also coproduced the 1992 Vigilantes of Love album, Killing Floor, with songwriter Mark Heard. He co-wrote, produced, and performed on Mark Eitzel's 1997 album West. He recorded an EP with Keith Streng of The Fleshtones as Full Time Men in 1985, and along with R.E.M. sideman Scott McCaughey has been a partner in The Minus 5 and a member of the instrumental band Tuatara. Additionally, In October 2005, he joined R.E.M. studio drummer Bill Rieflin, King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp and three others in forming an improvisational performance band called Slow Music. His voice can be heard on one R.E.M. song: "I Walked With a Zombie" from the Roky Erickson tribute album Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye. In 2006, Buck toured with Robyn Hitchcock, McCaughey, and Rieflin as lead guitarist for Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3 in the wake of the band's first release, Olé! Tarantula. In 2008, after McCaughey and Steve Wynn decided to work together, the duo asked Buck to be the bass player in their new band, The Baseball Project, along with drummer Linda Pitmon.

Buck has contributed liner notes to a number of compilations, reissues, and special editions, both of R.E.M.'s own material (the best-of compilations Eponymous and In Time, the rarities, B-sides and out-takes collection Dead Letter Office and the special edition of New Adventures in Hi-Fi) and of other artists' work (such as the Beach Boys' Love You).

On September 9, 2008, immediately following the band's concert in Helsinki, Finlandmarker, Buck's signature Rickenbacker guitar, used live and in the studio since Chronic Town in 1982, was stolen from the stage. It was returned on September 18, 2008, by an anonymous source.

Airline incident

On April 21, 2001, Buck was aboard a transatlantic flight from Seattle to London to play a concert at Trafalgar Squaremarker. Witnesses alleged that Buck exhibited various bizarre behaviors on the flight, including shoving a CD into a drinks trolley thinking it was a CD player, tearing up the "yellow card" warning notice handed to him by the flight crew, claiming "I am R.E.M." and being involved in a struggle over a yogurt pot with two stewards, which resulted in the exploding of the pot. Buck's actions led to two charges of common assault on the stewards, one charge of being drunk whilst on a plane, and one charge of damaging British Airways cutlery.

At the ensuing trial in London, Buck's defense claimed that the moderate amount of wine he had drunk had reacted adversely with the brand of sleeping pill he was taking and rendered him unable to control his actions. The prosecution, on the other hand, argued that he was simply intoxicated from supposedly consuming fifteen refills of wine. After the trial, which included testimony from Bono of the rock band U2, Buck was cleared on the grounds of non-insane automatism.

References

Further reading




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